Sunday, January 28, 2018

I Hear of Sherlock Everywhere Since You Became His Chronicler

We've been hit with a nice bit of weather in the Midwest this week, so I've been trying to get out with my dog for walks each day to wear down some of her energy.  
Two days after this picture was taken, she ate the pillow.
Yesterday, we took a nice, long walk, and I was able to finally listen to the latest episode of Blue Dot, anl NPR show out of northern California, that featured Scott Monty and Burt Wolder.  Now, if you've followed this blog for a while, you know I'm a fan of podcasts, especially Sherlockian podcasts, and Scott and Burt's offerings are at the top of my favorites list.

I enjoy my weekly dose of Trifles, but their namesake podcast, I Hear of Sherlock Everywhere, is the best show out there, for my money.  Coming out twice a month, IHOSE takes a deep dive into different aspects of our Sherlockian hobby.  The last few episodes alone have covered the gamut of lost radio scripts, the Baker Street Journal Christmas annual, The Junior Sherlockian Society, a major collection going up for auction, and a new pastiche.  

Scott and Burt have a relaxed yet professional demeanor on the air and their bonafides in the Sherlockian world are unquestionable.  Listening to their interviews with a different Sherlockian of note each episode always leads to an interesting discussion and things I wasn't aware of before listening.  

But if you're reading a Sherlockian blog, you are probably well aware of IHOSE.  What I really enjoyed about the episode of Blue Dot was hearing the tables turned on the IHOSE hosts.  In an hour long interview, we got to hear their Sherlockian origins, how their friendship grew, and their thoughts on different Sherlockian topics.  Towards the end of the interview, host Dave Schlom asked them for their immediate opinions of certain canonical characters.  I was pretty pleased with myself when I had some of the same responses to the names thrown out.

And that got me to thinking: that's what keeps most of us coming back to our hobby of Sherlockiana.  Whether its scion meetings, conferences, or online discussions, being a Sherlockian is not a solitary habit.  Sure, you can read the Canon, write fanfiction, or watch movies all on your own, but don't most of us want to talk about it with people of a similar ilk?  

I love meeting other Sherlockians, whether they are seasoned veterans with lots of stories to share or folks new to the fold that are just dipping a toe in, and almost all of them have been good people.  I was talking with another member of the Holmes in the Heartland planning committee last weekend and said that I'm definitely looking forward to the speeches and demonstrations we are lining up, but I'm most looking forward to spending time with other Sherlockians.  Because Sherlockians are good folks.

P.S. A follow up from last week's post:  I got my Burger King toy.  The jury is still out on if I will check out the movie.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

I Was Invited to a Week-End Gathering

First of all, I'm really excited to share the news that The Parallel Case of St. Louis scion society is hosting their first ever Holmes in the Heartland weekend on August 10-12! 

This event is to announce the opening of the St. Louis Sherlockian Research Collection in the Rare Books Room of the St. Louis Public Library.  The weekend promises scholarly talks on Sherlockian topics, blues, BBQ, tea, history and lots and lots of camaraderie. Registration for the weekend will open in May, but mark your calendars now for a weekend of good times with some great Sherlockians!

What I've dubbed The Irregular Canonical Book Club has really been a topic of conversation over the past two weeks!  I really just meant to set down a goal for myself to get back to the source material of our great hobby, but there are a lot of us out there who want to do the same thing!  So, I guess there should be a few ground rules:

1.  There is no set order, limit or structure to what you have to read to be part of The Irregular Canonical Book Club.  As long as you are going back and reading the Canon for fun in 2018, welcome to the club!

2.  The purpose of this is to motivate ourselves to revisit the Canon and to encourage others to do the same.  If you are looking for a weekly discussion on specific stories, The Hounds of the Internet email list is a great resource for structured discussion.

3.  That's it.  Read the Canon and have fun.

At our Parallel Case meeting yesterday, we talked about all of the adaptations coming to TV and the movies.  There are a lot! 

Elementary returns on April 30.

Miss Sherlock premiers on HBO Asia in April, also.

Will Ferrell's Holmes and Watson will be in theaters in November.

Breakout star of Stranger Things, Millie Bobby Brown, will star in a series of movies based off of the Enola Holmes mysteries.

And Sherlock Gnomes premieres in movie theaters on March 23.  Burger King currently has toys to go with the animated movie in their kids meals, including a Holmes toy and a Watson toy.

And here's where I'm in a conundrum.  The movie looks bad, really bad.  Lots of fart jokes, boring animation, and characters that strike me as both broad and bland at the same time.

But it's a Sherlock Holmes movie.  There's a part of me that still wants to go see it, just to support Sherlock Holmes getting out there, especially in a medium that introduces him to kids.  Sure, most of the kids are going to enjoy the fart jokes the most, but a few of them just might get a Sherlockian seed planted that grows into the next generation of Sherlockians that are writing books, attending scion meetings, and making great contributions to our hobby.

Luckily, I have a few weeks to decide.  Until then, I'll just pick up my Burger King toy to add to the bookshelf. 

Monday, January 15, 2018

Come Along, And Show What You Can Do

Well, the BSI Weekend is over, and people are making their ways back home.  The New York Times posted a nice write up of the weekend yesterday, which is great for folks like me that followed the events from the warmth of our own houses. 

News also broke this week that Millie Bobby Brown of the Netflix hit, Stranger Things, has signed a multi-picture deal to play Enola Holmes, Sherlock's younger sister, based off of the book series by Nancy Springer.

Speaking of books, that brings me to this week's topic: reading.  (This topic probably doesn't come as a surprise to frequent readers of the blog.  In fact, I almost named the blog "I Am An Omnivorous Reader")  Two weeks ago, I posted my list of Sherlockian resolutions, and one of them in particular got some specific feedback. 

Apparently, I'm not the only Sherlockian out there who is tackling the Canon this year.  I received tweets and emails from other folks who are even more ambitious than I am, and are planning on doing all 56 short stories and 4 novels!  And, why not?  These stories are what link all of us to our hobby.  Sure, it's easy to get caught up in new TV shows, pastiches and movies, or analyze the writings through scholarly writings, but how often do we just go back and reread the original stories for fun?

The impetus for me trying to reread a story a week this year was that I found I was only reading the stories to prepare for society meetings, so I would be refreshed on the plot and details.  My purpose for reading was to go into discussions armed with topics and minutiae for the group.  Now, I'll still do that to prepare for meetings, but I want to spend the rest of the year reading these stories for fun.  Because these are fun stories! 

Well, most of them (Looking at you, Veiled Lodger.)

So, join us this year!  You don't have to try and tackle the whole Canon or set a goal to read a story a week, but pick up the Canon and revisit some great fun.  Because we wouldn't be doing this if it weren't fun, right?

Sunday, January 7, 2018

About Being a Sherlockian: An Interview with Chris Redmond

Yesterday was the date generally recognized as Sherlock Holmes' birthday.  People all across the world celebrated in their own ways.  I was lucky enough to have breakfast and then lunch with two different groups of Sherlockians for very different purposes.  I can't imagine a better way to celebrate the Great Detective's birthday than spending time with other Sherlockians.

Steve and Rusty Mason of Dallas' scion society, The Crew of the Barque Lone Star, were passing through the St. Louis area on their way to the BSI Weekend in New York.  They had dinner Friday night with some members of The Harpooners of the Sea Unicorn and The Parallel Case of St. Louis, but I was unable to attend.  Luckily for me, they wanted to meet the next morning and we had a great time.  I'd never met either of these guys in person before, but I work with Steve on The Beacon Society and have communicated with him a lot.  After two and a half hours, we had to break up our little get together so they could get on the road, and I had my next appointment for the day.  I gave them a copy of The Criminal Mastermind of Baker Street, and they gave me copies of the two newest installments of Baker Street Elementary, as well as some authentic Texas beer.  I wish I could've spent more time with them.  Steve and Rusty are some great guys, and if the Dallas area Sherlockians are half as cool as them, there's a pretty great scion down there!

The second part of my day was meeting with other members of The Parallel Case of St. Louis, my home scion.  We are in the process of planning a Sherlockian event, and sat down to meet in person.  As the five of us hashed out ideas and made decisions, I had to take a second to pinch myself to realize how lucky I am to be part of this group.  While none of us at the table were fresh out of college, we were what I presume to be "young" by Sherlockian standards.  All of us have very different careers, from the opera to the library to the medical field, and we all have our own Sherlockian origin stories.  One member of the planning committee has been a part of The Parallel Case for over 20 years, while another just got into this in 2016.  But everyone at the table was working towards a common goal: to create an event that celebrates Sherlock Holmes and allows for Sherlockians to come together and meet new people.  Needless to say, I'm very excited not just about the people I'm working with, but the project we are working on.   I am hoping that we can announce our project by next month.  Stay tuned!

But all of this is just a lead up to this week's post.  My day with Dallas and St. Louis Sherlockians really drove home what a great, welcoming, and different community we are.  And there is a new book out that celebrates that.  Chris Redmond is one of our living treasures in Sherlockiana.  Not only is he knowledgeable and has an impressive output, but he is always welcoming to new members of our little hobby.  Chris has spent the last few years very active on Twitter openly discussing Sherlockiana with newcomers as well as editing two books about the Canon and Sherlockiana as a whole.  Both of these books (as well as a forthcoming third) include a mixture of old guard and fresh faces.  Chris was also the mastermind behind the internet's first big Sherlock Holmes site,  He has published too many books to mention here, but a quick Amazon search of his name will make your TBR list explode.

As I read Chris' latest collection, About Being a Sherlockian (which, full disclosure, I have an article in), I had so many questions about the curation of the project.  Chris was kind enough to answer my questions via email last week, and I am happy to share his insights with you now.

The newest anthology you've edited, About Being a Sherlockian, is about the different avenues that Sherlockiana takes in our daily lives.  What is your definition of a "Sherlockian"?

Well, a Sherlockian is somebody who’s seriously interested in Sherlock Holmes. Beyond that, I try to address this question somewhat in my Introduction to the new anthology, but really the whole book was created in an attempt to answer it.

How did you become a Sherlockian yourself?

Quite recently I’ve realized that I may have had my first exposure to Sherlock Holmes through the wonderful children’s book Freddy the Detective by Walter R. Brooks, of which I currently have three copies on my shelves. After that, I read the Sherlock Holmes stories when I was in my early teens, as so many people do, or at least did in my generation. Most of them grow out of it, but a lucky few never do, and that was me. I’ve been an active Sherlockian now since 1964.

What sparked this project into being?

About Being a Sherlockian is a successor to About Sixty, the anthology I produced last year with essays by 60 Sherlockians each championing one of the original 60 Canonical tales as “the best”. I had so much enjoyment out of that project, and the idea of a book by 60 diverse Sherlockian authors was so well received, that I was eager to do it again, and I thought it would be a compelling way to describe the breadth and diversity of Sherlockian life.

How did you choose the sixty participants and their topics for About Being a Sherlockian?

The new book includes 19 authors who also appeared in About Sixty, and 41 newcomers. I tried to cover as many different aspects of Sherlockiana as possible, so I looked for a collector or two, a society organizer or two, a librarian, a pastiche author, an actor, and so on. I also tried for diversity in age and geography, and a balance of the sexes. The majority of the authors, though not all, are people I know as friends, either in person or through online activity.

How did you choose to arrange the sixty essays in the book?

It took a while to think that through, but eventually I grouped them into five sections, with names evocative of the five books of canonical short stories: “The Advent of Sherlock Holmes” with an emphasis on how people first met Holmes and how they have grown in this community; “The Members”, mostly about Sherlockian societies; “The Retooling”, about new understandings of Sherlock Holmes and new ways of being a Sherlockian; “His Latest Bows”, about some individual variations and explorations; and “The Book-Case”, about Sherlockians as authors, readers, and traffickers in books.

I know all sixty essays are your favorite for different reasons, but are there some that stick out for particular reasons?

There’s such a variety that it’s impossible to rank them. This book has four essays by authors who are fairly well known outside just the Sherlockian world, and I was glad to get them involved early — they added credibility as the book took shape. But many of the other 56 pieces are gems too. Someone said this week that they were brought to tears twice reading the book, by the words of Mattias Boström and Tim Johnson, and I can understand why. I’m also proud to have included a memorable, flag-planting essay by Elinor Gray, an advocate of Holmes as “queer detective”; a touching reminiscence by John Sherwood about his experiences impersonating Holmes; and the wonderful “The Bones of Justice” by Carlina de la Cova.

You aren't a Sherlockian that lets the grass grow underneath him.  What projects are on the horizon for you?

There will be a third 60-author anthology next year, Sherlock Holmes Is Like, with essays comparing Sherlock Holmes to figures of history, mythology and literature, including Houdini, Robin Hood, Hamlet, Doctor Who, and Peter Pan. The authors will include many veterans of the first two collections, but about half of them will be newcomers.

No matter the subject matter, if Chris Redmond is behind the project.  You know it's going to be good!